TRENTON, NJ -- Trenton Mayoral candidate Walker Worthy, Jr. has proposed opening adult and children community resource centers in each ward of Trenton. The centers would all be located in the libraries of one school in each city ward, and would extend the Monday to Friday hours into the evening, to allow parents and children to consult with constituent services workers and educators about academic and social concerns. Worthy wants to dedicate these public spaces to serve as resources for residents looking to better themselves through education, recreation and counseling.
“We need to invest in the people of Trenton. To me, that means prioritizing mental health awareness, and empowering people who are already active in the community to organize their own programs in a safe, shared space. I want to earmark city funding to keeping these buildings open seven days a week, and have city employees available for residents who want to get useful documents like passports, drivers’ licenses, and even study materials to take their GED,” said Worthy. “Community centers need to serve the children and adults who come there, and I want children to have spaces besides after-care to get good books to read, safe places to play. I envision a community center in each of the four wards of Trenton where residents can help find little league and recreation programs to enroll their children in, and a directory where they or their children can take English as a second language programs in their neighborhood.”
Trenton City Hall currently only employs two part-time grant writers. Worthy has outlined his plan to hire full-time grant writers, who would each be responsible for obtaining federal and state funding for several departments including parks and recreation, homelessness prevention, and education and community centers. Trenton's public libraries have been closed or seen their hours heavily reduced in recent years, reducing access to educational resources like English as a Second Language materials and resources for coping with depression or substance abuse crucial to people of all ages. After-school academic programs throughout the school district have also been decimated in recent years.
Worthy, a former educator at Hedgepeth-Williams Middle School and Joyce Kilmer School, has noted the recent decrease in support staff in Trenton, which prevents teachers from catering to the individual needs of each students. His proposal to open more community centers is based on the recommendation of school administrators he has worked with. The proposal would dedicate one city constituent services representative to each school for the after-school shift. These representatives could either work exclusively at the school as part-time city employees, or also work at City Hall during the day and be considered full-time employees, depending on what the city budget -- augmented by increased funding -- allowed.
“I commend Walker Worthy, Jr. for his plan to rejuvenate the community by offering critical services to parents as well as children. The learning process doesn’t just start when children get to school, and it doesn’t end when they get home from school. Parents play a huge role in children’s ability to learn. Many parents don’t access to resources like technology and reliable internet with which to help their children develop reading, writing, and critical thinking skills outside of the classroom,” said Channing Conway, Principal of Mott Elementary School. “Walker’s proposal to add community parenting centers in every ward of the city is a surefire way to engage parents in their children’s academic journey, and provide parents resources to help themselves overcome challenges in their lives.”